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Old 03-07-2019, 09:59 PM   #1
JamesGT
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Slackware64 on a Chromebook, opinions.


I've recently purchased a very inexpensive, but very useful, Chromebook. It's a Lenovo Yoga 11e Chromebook, one of the first generations.

Some specs:

Intel Celeron N2940 Quad-Core, 1.83 GHz/2.25 GHz turbo mode
4 GB DDR3L SDRAM
Intel HD Graphics
Display 11.6", 1366 x 768, touchscreen
16 GB Integrated eMMC
Optical Drive None
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
1 x USB 2.0 Type-A
Display 1 x HDMI
Audio Integrated Speaker
Integrated Microphone
1 x 1/8" (3.5 mm) Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack
Media Card Slots: SD/SDHC/SDXC

Wi-Fi Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac); Dual-Band (2.4 & 5 GHz)
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0
Webcam User-Facing: 720p

I like Chrome OS, but I've always wanted a Slackware "laptop" like this. In doing some research, you can get this to dual boot with linux off a USB thumbdrive or SD card, or even format the internal eMMC drive and install it there.

Has anyone had any experience with this? Here are my general concerns:

1 - When in tablet mode, is there something I can install for an onscreen virtual keyboard?

2 - What is the performance going to be like? I have a Core2Duo with 4GB of ram that I've installed Slackware on and the experience suuuuuuuuuuucks. In comparing the CPU in the Yoga to the Core2Duo, the Core2Duo should out perform the N2940 in the Yoga, but the Yoga has 4 cores. The Core2Duo is just a dual core, no hyperthreading. The Core2Duo is a 2008 processor, the n2940 is from 2014.

3 - I get about 5 hours of battery life with Chrome OS. Will I get about the same if I am running Slackware on it? I don't know if Slackware will just punish the hardware more or not, driving down battery life.

I supposed I could just try it and see if I like it, but I wanted to see if anyone has run Slackware at least on similar hardware and what it was like.

James
 
Old 03-07-2019, 11:41 PM   #2
ZhaoLin1457
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Did you read this thread? https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...ok-4175647938/

Probably not, because otherwise you have been noticed that that forum user ended with installing Ubuntu on his Chromebook and nobody seen him here after that.
 
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Old 03-08-2019, 02:26 AM   #3
bassmadrigal
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Location: West Jordan, UT, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZhaoLin1457 View Post
...nobody seen him here after that.
He last posted on that thread on Feb 24 and has since made several posts in the Slackware subforum:

https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...ml#post5967201
https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...ml#post5967217
https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...ml#post5967868
https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...7/#post5970322
https://www.linuxquestions.org/quest...7/#post5970466

@OP, a lot of it will depend on your hardware. As ZhaoLin1457 posted, a previous attempt at this by Lysander666 resulted in problems with Slackware and they ultimately decided to run Ubuntu on their computer. If yours is similar hardware, it's possible you'll run into the same problems, but it's also possible yours will run without issues.

But to answer your questions:

1. I know SBo has at least XVKBD and Florence. I'm not sure if it offers any others.

2. Generally, you're going to see a lot of improved performance on CPUs that are 6 years newer, especially with more cores. But you could always find out using Slackware Live on
a USB drive. I'm actually surprised you had so many issues with your Core2Duo. I had an AMD Athlon64 dual core from 2008 and it still did decent with standard computing. Sure, if I tried to throw anything intensive at it, like compiling or encoding video, it left a lot to be desired, but using the computer was still snappy.

3. I imagine your battery life won't be as good, since Google is able to tailor ChromeOS to the hardware it's run on, but it's impossible to know without trying. You'll also want to make sure you're not running any unnecessary services and that you have CPU scaling working properly. PowerTOP (already included in Slackware) can be a big help in finding culprits that are sucking up your battery life and can give you suggestions on how to improve your power usage.
 
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Old 03-08-2019, 04:28 AM   #4
Lysander666
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Registered: Apr 2017
Location: The Underearth
Distribution: Slackware, Devuan, Xubuntu
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OP, I would encourage you to look at the thread linked by ZhaoLin1457. I think this could be a problematic endeavour for you - as noted, I have for now put the project of putting -current on my Chromebook on hold and the computer now runs Ubuntu [actually Xubuntu] which functions perfectly.

I can't speak for your computer - but I can speak for mine and some of my problems may be true for you. I think that trying to get Slackware to install on the eMMC could only be the first in a line of problems you'll encounter. My biggest problem, which is well-known in converted Chromebooks, was getting audio to work post-install on any distro apart from Ubuntu. This is why I stuck with Ubuntu - it was the only distribution where audio worked properly, and I found the solution after a lot of searching. Debian and Devuan couldn't even get the touchpad and keyboard to work properly. Audio wouldn't work under MX either.

I didn't even manage to get Slackware to install on the Chromebook. It would go through the install and it would look successful, but on reboot I would either get a GRUB error or kernel panic which I couldn't get beyond. Like I say, my issues may not be the same for you - but don't be surprised if a] the install doesn't work and b], if it does, you see problems thereafter.

Your other option is to try to run something off SD card but you may run into similar issues. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Good luck and keep us updated.

Last edited by Lysander666; 03-08-2019 at 04:29 AM.
 
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:07 PM   #5
JamesGT
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Location: St. Louis, MO, USA
Distribution: Slackware64 14.2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassmadrigal View Post
@OP, a lot of it will depend on your hardware. As ZhaoLin1457 posted, a previous attempt at this by Lysander666 resulted in problems with Slackware and they ultimately decided to run Ubuntu on their computer. If yours is similar hardware, it's possible you'll run into the same problems, but it's also possible yours will run without issues.
Similar, but not exact. That has a dual core running a 1920x1080 display. I wouldn't even try slackware on a machine like that. Mine is a quad core with less pixels to push on a 1366x768 display. GPU plays a huge role in these machines and a FHD display is going to just kill performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bassmadrigal View Post
But to answer your questions:
Thank you. I can definitely try it and see. You can make it dual boot and if it doesn't work as well as I want, I'll just stick to Chrome OS.

Thanks!
 
Old 03-08-2019, 11:13 PM   #6
JamesGT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lysander666 View Post
OP, I would encourage you to look at the thread linked by ZhaoLin1457. I think this could be a problematic endeavour for you - as noted, I have for now put the project of putting -current on my Chromebook on hold and the computer now runs Ubuntu [actually Xubuntu] which functions perfectly.
I am reading it now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lysander666 View Post
I can't speak for your computer - but I can speak for mine and some of my problems may be true for you. I think that trying to get Slackware to install on the eMMC could only be the first in a line of problems you'll encounter.
I had thought about wiping it and installing it on the eMMC memory, but I think I would stick to an SD card/fast USB thumbdrive or an external SSD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lysander666 View Post
My biggest problem, which is well-known in converted Chromebooks, was getting audio to work post-install on any distro apart from Ubuntu. This is why I stuck with Ubuntu - it was the only distribution where audio worked properly, and I found the solution after a lot of searching. Debian and Devuan couldn't even get the touchpad and keyboard to work properly. Audio wouldn't work under MX either.
This is sounding like a nightmare...maybe I should just build a Slackware linux machine and use VNC to get to it, lol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lysander666 View Post
I didn't even manage to get Slackware to install on the Chromebook. It would go through the install and it would look successful, but on reboot I would either get a GRUB error or kernel panic which I couldn't get beyond. Like I say, my issues may not be the same for you - but don't be surprised if a] the install doesn't work and b], if it does, you see problems thereafter.

Your other option is to try to run something off SD card but you may run into similar issues. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Good luck and keep us updated.
We'll see where I end up. Your machine is similar, but it definitely has a power deficit to mine, but I could see the same issues you have had.

James
 
Old 03-09-2019, 05:11 AM   #7
Lysander666
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James, my advice to you would be at this stage to at least to get the dastardly Chrome OS off that thing. You'll have to flash the BIOS with the one by Mr Chromebox and then delete the strudel of partitions that is Chrome OS when you install your new operating system. Flashing the BIOS still means that you will have to press Ctrl+L when the computer starts up to enable legacy mode and then to get into the BIOS but it's no big issue. To make it so that you don't have to do this, and to disable the 30 second delay between BIOS loading and OS boot, you will have to open the machine up and scrape away the write-protect seal on the motherboard but this is not necessary is you are OK with waiting ~45 seconds from power on to login screen:

Code:
lysander@xanadu-ix:~$ systemd-analyze 
Startup finished in 2.462s (kernel) + 5.801s (userspace) = 8.264s
graphical.target reached after 5.346s in userspace
Add another 30s to this and this Chromebook still boots to login in less time that my netbook takes to boot Slackware 14.2.

If you decide to go with one of the *buntus just to play around with, I would recommend Xubuntu for the dual reason that Xubuntu doesn't force software updates on you [Ubuntu does] and that audio does work as long as you employ the magic fix. Audio does not work under Ubuntu Budgie even with the fix, as far as I tested.

As far as Slack goes, I found problems with the screen during the install of 14.2. It seems that 14.2 doesn't have drivers necessary for my screen, so it would just go blank during the install sometimes and I'd have to do a hard reset and start again. The solution is to try to install -current via the setup2hd script in Eric's live ISO. -current does not have a problem with the screen. Whether you can get -current to install successfully or not is another matter.

EDIT: While I remember, another thing you may well find, on install of a new Linux OS, is that the fonts onscreen are rather small. Chromebooks have awesome HiDPI screens but you'll have to fiddle around with the font settings to get them looking good. I did the following:

- raised the row size of the Xfce panel to 34
- changed all fonts within Xfce font settings to size 14
- I recommend an awesome browser like Vivaldi. Within it you can set the User Interface Zoom and Default Webpage Zoom. I personally have the former set to 135% and the latter to 140%.
- you may also need a HiDPI windows manager theme. I use Numix HiDPI.

Seeing as you only have a 16GB hard drive, the best way round this, I found, was to install / on the main drive and mount /home on an SD card. I even managed to squeeze in ~1.5GB of swap.

Code:
lysander@xanadu-ix:~$ lsblk && df -h
NAME         MAJ:MIN RM  SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
mmcblk0      179:0    0 14.7G  0 disk 
├─mmcblk0p1  179:1    0   13G  0 part /
└─mmcblk0p2  179:2    0  1.7G  0 part [SWAP]
mmcblk0boot0 179:8    0    4M  1 disk 
mmcblk0boot1 179:16   0    4M  1 disk 
mmcblk1      179:24   0 59.5G  0 disk 
└─mmcblk1p1  179:25   0 59.5G  0 part /home
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev            1.9G     0  1.9G   0% /dev
tmpfs           387M  1.4M  385M   1% /run
/dev/mmcblk0p1   13G  5.8G  6.4G  48% /
tmpfs           1.9G  342M  1.6G  18% /dev/shm
tmpfs           5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
tmpfs           1.9G     0  1.9G   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk1p1   59G   21G   35G  38% /home
tmpfs           387M   16K  387M   1% /run/user/1000

Last edited by Lysander666; 03-09-2019 at 06:03 AM.
 
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Old 03-11-2019, 10:14 PM   #8
JamesGT
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I had originally decided against doing this, but after finding out this little machine has 1 thing going for it, and 1 against.

1 against is that in the next 4 months updates will cease on it. After that it won't be long before things will slowly stop working. So, there is a limited lifetime on this little Chromebook and Chrome OS.

1 thing going for it, Lenovo made exactly the same machine with a 128gb SSD that ran windows 8.1. Most of the same specs but with less items, like ethernet for instance. If most of the other specs are the same, I am guessing Slackware might run fairly decently on it. There is an empty spot in there were a 2.5" drive would go. If the connector is still there, maybe I can install a bigger HD and use that.

I'll find out over the coming months.

james
 
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